Thursday, May 28, 2015

Eff Off?! Okay.

People talk a lot about the importance of a 'positive work environment'. It's true. Companies get rated on it, and when I read about what it's like to work for those on the top of that list, I salivate a bit. Not that I'm dissing my current job or anything. It's a cushy place overall. After all, it's a school. It's not like I'm walking into a battlefield with gunfire and epithets flying all around me. Right? Think again.

I have my own classroom- a shrine to English that I've decorated and where I pretty much spend most of the day. When I'm free, I play some music as I work, enjoying the peace and quiet. All that changed one day. I was correcting a bunch of papers when suddenly, there's gunfire! I duck under my desk and as I hunker there, eyes rolling from one side to the other, I hear it. F*ck you! F*ck you! F*ck you! This goes on for a while, steadily sounding more and more smug and curiously, lazier. Then it stops with a final round of gunfire. I crawl out and look around. Nothing. It was apparently all in my head. Not a reassuring thought, but being crazy is better than being fired at.

Till it happens again the next day. And the next. Always when I'm alone. I started walking around my classroom, ears pressed up against the walls, peering at tiles, poking the old cupboard in the corner, jumping from one tile to another, but it still haunted me everyday. I took it in my stride and told no one. Being committed at my age doesn't sound like much fun. Finally, months later, a Thai child happened to be in my class once when it did happen, and she told me that it was a lizard. I was like- What the heck, kid? You stoned or something? No natural being makes a sound like that.

But it turns out she was right. My daily nemesis was the Tokay Gecko who lived above the ceiling in my room. And get this- the gunfire and cursing? It's his mating call. Here-

So, the Tokay gecko was nicknamed the 'F*ck you' gecko by U.S. soldiers a long time ago, and I must say I agree completely. Seriously, for something coming out of the mouth of a real life creature, it's one of the most unnatural sounds I've ever heard.

Now, let's pause and think about just how romantic all this is. Yeah, baby, you know what I want to do to you, don't you? No? Well, let me tell you-.................

It reminds me of one guy who recently got in touch with me with the intention of 'getting to know me'. Cool. So what he does he talk about? Toilets. Eastern Vs. Western. The root cause of diseases in the light of toilets. You know what really hurt? When I sarcastically said "How Romantic", it actually got lost in the torrent of messages he was sending about toilets. Talk about having your fist connect with empty air. If he hadn't stopped when I told him to, I'd have called him 'Kakoose boy' and maybe a few more things too. Lizards aren't the only ones that can make a person duck for cover.

They aren't the only ones to think cursing is cool either. Kids do it a lot. Even in my time. I remember approaching a boy in my class when was in Standard 9 to ask him about his hobbies. This was for a class magazine I was responsible for. "F*cking" was his answer. Now, I was a total prude back then, unbelievably desperate to avoid conflict at any cost. So I looked down at my notepad, looked back at him and smilingly said, "Hockey?"
Still determined to save the situation, "Hockey?"
We went back and forth a few times till I gave up, turned around and ran away, pigtails flying.

These days, kids come up to me and breathlessly relate who said the F word, who said the Mother F word and so on. I admit I'm lost. They don't get what's wrong with saying something that the media bombards them with everyday. It's just 'cool'. They'll grow out of it; most kids do. Maybe the Tokay gecko will similarly evolve. I hope so. If there's one thing I'd rather not hear from Mother Nature on a daily basis, this would definitely be it.

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